Trout Buffet

By Ronnie Parris

Hey folks, hope you’re loving this beautiful weather. This is your best time of year to stock up on some fine-eating mountain trout. Several of our local lakes really fish well for these mountain trout. Cheoah, Santeetlah, Bear and Wolf are probably the best for trout. Although all have natural spawning trout in them, the state hatcheries stock a good number of brown, rainbow and brook trout. On hatchery supported waters there is no minimum size limit and your allowed to keep 7 per person. These fish are best fried or grilled. Smoked is also really good. Oven baked with a little lemon or lime juice is always a crowd pleaser.

There are many techniques to catching trout, with my favorite being slow trolling. I run a variety of small crank baits and soft plastic lures. Spoons are also good producers. Live bait is another option, with live minnows and night crawler rigs working well. When casting for trout, I usually start off with artificial, but will not hesitate to put on a crawler or even whole kernel corn for bait. In recent years companies like Berkeley and Gulp have perfected trout baits with their own scent that make them irresistible to trout.

Trout like cold water and lots of oxygen, so keep this in mind and pay attention to the water temperature. And in hot weather watch for a thermocline, as trout tend to hold in the center of the thermocline. If you see surface activity, don’t assume it’s bass, as trout love working a good hatch. These fish are very soft-mouthed, so don’t set the hook hard or fight them too aggressively.

This is a great time of year for taking kids out, so as always, stay safe and take a kid fishing.

Ronnie Parris is owner and head guide of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited-Fontana Lake Fishing Guides, headquartered in Bryson City, N.C., heart of the Great Smoky Mountains,; (828) 488-9711.